Lou Reed, the pioneering songwriter and musician behind the Velvet Underground, one of the most influential rock bands which fused art and music in collaboration with artist Andy Warhol, died on Sunday (October 27) at the age of 71, his literary agent said.
Reed died at a home he shared in Long Island, New York, with his wife Laurie Anderson following complications from a liver transplant he had earlier this year, Andrew Wylie, the agent, said.
While the Velvet Underground never achieved great commercial success, the band revolutionised rock in the 1960s and 70s with a mixture of thrashing guitar licks and smooth melodies sung by Reed or the sultry German model Nico, who briefly collaborated with the band at Warhol's insistence.
An admitted hard drinker and drug user for many years, Reed underwent a liver transplant earlier this year at the Cleveland Mayo Clinic, his wife, Laurie Anderson, told The Times of London after he had cancelled five California April concert dates.
"There's only one great occupation that can change the world, that's real rock and roll. I believe to the bottom of my heart to the last cell that rock and roll can change anything," Reed declared at the GQ Men of the Year Awards in September of this year.
Reed always placed great importance on song-writing. One of his first jobs out of college was as a staff writer for Pickwick Records. He dedicated the 1966 Velvet Underground song "European Son" to the late poet Delmore Schwartz, under whom he studied at Syracuse University.
Reed was married three times, the latest to recording and performance artist Laurie Anderson in 2008, and in recent years took an intense interest in photography, staging exhibitions of his work.
Presented by Adam Justice